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date: 01 December 2022

Antiblackness and the Adultification of Black Children in a U.S. Prison Nationlocked

Antiblackness and the Adultification of Black Children in a U.S. Prison Nationlocked

  • Amir A. GilmoreAmir A. GilmoreWashington State University
  •  and Pamela J. BettisPamela J. BettisWashington State University

Summary

Discourses in the early 21st century surrounding the presumption of childhood innocence were undergirded by antiblackness. The theorization of antiblackness within the context of race, gender, and education has been beneficial to understanding how the mistreatment of Black children and the illegitimacy of Black childhoods within the white American racial imaginary is seemingly justified. Foundational to the United States, antiblackness is a race-based paradigm of racial othering and subjugation through a litany of organized structural violence against Black people. Structured outside the realms of humanity and civil society, Black life, through this paradigm, is regarded as other than human. Arguably, antiblackness shapes all racialized, gendered, sexualized conditions and experiences of all Black people, including the age compression of Black children. Antiblackness scholarship posits that there is an institutional unwillingness to see Black youth as children. Discourses on what it means to be a child, who can occupy that position, and when a particular stage of a child’s development is reached, are all structured against Black youth. Pathologized as deviant, adult-like problems, Black children occupy life in a liminal space, where they are denied childhood status but carry adult-like culpability. As adultified Black youth, they lack autonomy and are not granted leniency to learn from their mistakes like their white peers. With their actions and intentions perceived as deviant, ill-willed, or hypersexual, Black children are susceptible a wide range of violence from school punishment, the criminal justice system, sexual abuse and exploitation, and excessive police force.

Subjects

  • Education, Change, and Development
  • Education, Cultures, and Ethnicities
  • Educational Theories and Philosophies
  • Education and Society
  • Education, Gender, and Sexualities

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